A story to introduce the idea of character development: Should Marcy be the Boss? – for children 9-10 years

Should Marcy be the Boss?

Marcy lived in San Diego, USA. Her parents had a beautiful large house with a swimming pool. and Marcy was their only child. Marcy’s mother Bettina loved to play golf, to visit the beautician and her hairdresser, to work with her personal trainer and to do a little charity work one day a week. She was a busy lady. She did not have time to clean or cook so she employed Olivia, a woman from Mexico, just over the border from San Diego.

Bettina allowed her home help Olivia to go home across the border at weekends. She spent her days cleaning and cooking and looking after Marcy when she wasn’t at school. Marcy loved Olivia. She always had time to chat about any problem Marcy had and Marcy was the kind of girl who was always having problems. She was ten years old and she and her friends were always falling out.

If Marcy told her mother about it, Bettina would say
‘Gee honey, I don’t know why you bother with Mary Lou (or Jamie Lee, or whoever Marcy had fallen out with). But that answer did not satisfy her; she wanted to know why things had gone wrong between her and her friends, and Olivia would always ask Marcy the right questions about what had happened to help her to understand these ups and downs.

Olivia had three children of her own whom she saw only at weekends. Marcy loved to hear about them as she had no brothers or sisters to play with or to think about. Olivia’s family were almost like a family to Marcy except that she had never met them.

One day during the summer holidays Olivia asked Marcy’s Mum, Bettina, if she could bring her youngest daughter Karen to stay for a week. Olivia’s mother, Karen’s grandmother, had to go to hospital and could not look after the children for a few days.

Bettina agreed, ‘Sure that will be okay. Marcy has fallen out with all her friends at the moment, so Karen will keep her company.’

‘She will be no trouble,’ said Olivia, ‘she can help me with the work. Marcy might not want to play with her.’

‘Oh yes I do, I do want to play with her!’ shouted Marcy who had been listening from behind the half closed kitchen door.
Olivia looked at Marcy then at Bettina, her half smile said a lot. Bettina easily read her expression.
‘Marcy, if Karen comes she will be staying here and you won’t be able to treat her like you treat your so-called friends. You will have to be kind and considerate and not flounce off in a huff and say ‘I’ll never speak to you again.’
Marcy blushed. ‘I don’t say that! Well, if I do I don’t mean it!’

‘That maybe so, but do your friends know that? No one has called round it at all this holiday. Have you put them all off?’

Marcy stomped out of the kitchen. Bettina and Olivia looked at each other. Both women thought the other should be making a better job of showing Marcy how to behave, but of course neither said so.
‘Karen can come tomorrow, that will be fine,’ said Bettina in an uncertain voice, which told of her doubts.

When Karen arrived Marcy was all over her. She talked non-stop and took her all around the house and showed her where she could and could not go. She decided that she would be the boss and Karen would be a servant, a servant who would play with her when Marcy wanted to play, otherwise she could help her mother.

The adults did not hear about this arrangement. They had thought that the girls could make friends with each other and have some fun, perhaps swim in the pool, play handball and watch a few videos together.

On the second day Karen refused to go to play with Marcy.
‘I want to help you today, Mum,’ she said.

‘Why what’s the problem?’ asked Olivia.
As usual Marcy was listening from behind the door.
‘Marcy is treating me like a servant. She keeps telling me to fetch things for her. She tells me what to do all the time. Even in the pool, she tells me where I can swim and how many lengths I have to do. She’s so bossy!’

Marcy felt herself blushing. That was exactly what her friends kept telling her. She did not know how to behave in a nice way towards people. She had to think quickly.
She skipped in the door. ‘ Hi Karen.’ She said. ‘I was playing at being the boss yesterday. I forgot to tell you. Sorry. Today you can be the boss. It’s your turn. Just tell me what to do and I will do it.’

Karen looked surprised. ‘Oh is that what you were doing? Well it wasn’t much fun for me. I think I’m not going to choose to be the boss. We’ll have a different game. I will be a teacher and I will show you how to take turns, how to share and to be polite and considerate, and you can pretend that you don’t know how to be those things, and I will teach you. We could make a play about it and show Mum and Bettina tonight.’

Questions
This is a story about character. What does the word mean to you?
Who in the story shows that they have a good character?
What is it that they do that shows you this?
How could Bettina be a better mother?
Why does Marcy keep losing her friends?
Why does Karen not want to play with Marcy?
What advice would you give to Marcy to help her to keep her friends?
How could you help someone who needs to learn better behaviour?

The Bamboo House, a story about respecting animals (children 6-10 years)

The Bamboo House:

cockeral-lit

Susie lived in Malasia. When she was six years old something happened in the family which she would never forget.

Susie’s house was made of bamboo. Long poles of wood were used to hold up the roof, the walls and the floor.The house was built above the ground so that people did not get wet and a higher house was not so easy for the  wild creatures to get into.

There were three children in the family: Susie, her brother Sam and her sister Tali.

Their mother and father used to grow fruit for the family and to sell in the market.

One day, Father loaded up the baskets on his bicycle and set off to market. Mother stayed at home to look after the family. She was not feeling very well and she was tired.Mum fell asleep on the mat in the bedroom.

Sam was the eldest and he said he wanted to go and play in the garden. Susie didn’t think he ought to do that while their mum was asleep, because he should stay in the house and look after Tali who was only three years old. Tali could be a bit naughty sometimes.Sam went out to play and Susie looked after Tali while Mum as asleep.They played with their dolls made of palm leaves. They were very quiet so as not to wake Mum up.

After a while they heard some shouting. It was Sam and someone else.

“Stop. Come here,” said the voice.

“Go away!,” said Sam.

Mum woke up.“Whatever if the matter?” she asked. “What is Sam up to now?”

Sam appeared up the ladder and climbed in to the house. He was looking guilty.

“Whatever have you been up to, Sam?”

“I didn’t mean to frighten Mr. D’s chickens,” cried Sam.

Then Mr. D appeared below us, shaking his fist at Sam.

“That boy of yours, Mrs! He’s been shooting peas at my hens. They have all flown off into the jungle.  Wild animals may catch them and eat them if they are too frightened to come home.”

“Oh dear, oh dear!” said Mum.“This is the last thing I need today. Come on, all of you. We have to go and bring back Mr. D’s chickens. Sam, I am very cross with you.”

The houses were in a clearing in the jungle. The chickens had run away to hide in the trees. 

Cockerel in bushes

A cockerel was hiding in a bush.

It took a long time to find them and shoo them back.

Mum and Susie were very tired and cross when at last the chickens were all in their pen.

Sam felt bad. He had frightened the chickens and because of him everyone felt cross and tired, especially mum.

“I’m sorry, Mum. I won’t do it again. I didn’t mean to hurt the chickens. I was just practising my shooting.”

His mother sighed a big sigh.  “All right, Sam, but why don’t you hang some big leaves on the washing line and get your sister to pull it up and down. Then you’ll have a target that won’t get hurt.”

Susie enjoyed helping Sam with his target practice and he used his pea shooter to frighten away snakes and any other animals which were careless enough to climb up to the house.

  • What name might you give to the story?
  • How did Susie try to help her Mum at the start of the story?
  • Sam did several things which were not helpful and not good.  Can you remember what he did?
  • What did Sam do with his peashooter?
  • What might have happened to the chickens in the jungle?
  • What do you think about hurting or frightening animals?
  • Do you think Sam’s mum was kind or unkind? Why?
  • How did Susie help Sam at the end of the story?

Law 6, You must not commit murder (Laws of Life, North American Indian Tradition) for 10 years old to adult

A story from Calling Horse

You must nor commit murder

When I was a young man and had performed my initiation into adulthood, I was one of number of young braves who learnt together and who went through the rites and ceremonies together. We were a happy band with one exception. There was a young man who always seemed to have a cloud hanging over him. He came from a family which had lost their father . Their mother had had to bring up the children herself and had not had any support from a man. She had four young sons who used to argue a great deal and jostle for position in the family. Three of them were similar in age, two of them were twins, and the cloudy brave was one year younger. He always felt aggrieved that the twins seemed to have all the power in his household, and he had none.


One day the twins had gone hunting and had come back with nothing. Dark Water had managed to catch a small deer by himself. They had stolen it from him and had taken it as their quarry to show their mother, She always sided with them, and insulted our cloudy brave. He was mortally offended.


Dark Water went away to brood on his hatred. He disappeared for several days. His brothers felt guilty about what had happened and after much questioning from their mother, they admitted what they had done. Their mother turned pale.
“How could you treat your brother thus? This is not the way of the Great Spirit, to steal his glory to cover up your own failure. Shame! Go and find him, and don’t come back until you do.”


The twins set off to look for Dark Water. Their hearts were heavy, they knew he was a deeply resentful character. They wondered about their own safety. Perhaps he would kill one or both of them when he saw them. They realised that over the years they had given him enough cause for resentment, and now finally they had begun to regret it.
“But surely our brother would never kill us!” said one.

 “Why not? He has nothing to lose if he has decided to leave the tribe anyway.”
“Do you really think he would?”
“I would not blame him if he did.We have dishonoured him. We have cheated him.”
“When we see him how are we going to know what is in his heart?”

“Whatever it is it will not be good.”

“Do you think we should kill him first, so that he cannot kills us?”

“Well, it would solve the problem.  He would not come back and brood and threaten us like he always does.”

“But what if he does not plan to kill us and we kill him?”

“Then we will have to pay the penalty to the Great Spirit.”

The two continued in this vein as they traversed the countryside. No sign was to be seen of their brother. Further and further they went, looking for foot prints, for campfires, for signs of blood from a killing. They found nothing.
They decided to return, their fear beginning to lessen. Perhaps they would not have to face this dreadful decision to kill or be killed. They returned to camp. The twins found their mother very distraught.

“I have had a terrible dream.” she said. “I dreamt that you two killed your brother and returned, saying nothing to me. Then you went off on a hunting expedition, and you were both shot by the hunters’ arrows. What does all this mean? We must ask the chief.” The little family went to the chief and explained shamefacedly what had happened. The twins did not divulge their conversation about killing their brother. They were by now very frightened young men.


The chief sat quietly for some minutes with his eyes closed. Finally, “Yes,” he said, “I can see your brother. He is hiding in a tree just outside the camp. His heart is full of sorrow. He does not want to return to a loveless home where he is not appreciated, but he does not want to leave the tribe. What are you going to do about it?”  He looked directly at the twins.  They hung their heads in shame, greatly relieved that they had not actually killed their brother, and that their mother’s vision had only been a dream. They were very glad of the chance to make amends.

He is hiding in a tree just outside the camp

The family walked round the camp, calling their brother encouraging him to appear. Finally he emerged looking tired and drawn.
His mother enfolded him in her arms and begged forgiveness for neglecting him and for indulging the twins. The twins handed him their best weapons, a beautiful bow and a tomahawk, in recompense for their bad treatment of him. The youngest boy, just a child, held his brother’s hand as they all returned to the camp. The Great Spirit had saved them from the abomination of committing murder; never again did they harbour such black thoughts in their hearts.


A COMMENT BY CALLING HORSE

There was no controversy amongst those who knew it was wrong to kill any one you knew, but when it came to territorial struggles, or power struggles with other tribes, and blood was shed, who was in the right? Was ‘might’ right, or did the ‘ meek inherit the earth’? Of course we did not have your Bible, or your way of doing things. Might, in general, was right, but most tribes were not pugnacious. They were peace loving and respected the lives of all people whether they were of their own tribe or not.

The Doll and the Snake (A short story about forgiveness for age 6-9 years)

A Short Story about Forgiveness (for children 6-9 years) 

I was cold. I sat with my arms hugging my body on the step outside my house. I was cross. My sister had been annoying me again and I shouted at her. I threw her doll out of the window. My dad told me to go and get it and not to be so silly. I stamped outside and slammed the door. Why should I get her stupid doll? What did I care if it got wet in the rain? It didn’t matter to me. The porch over the front door was small, but it was keeping me dry. I didn’t want to go back indoors again. I started shivering. I only had my tee shirt on.

The front door opened a crack. My sister peeped through it at me. I pretended not to see her.

The Dol and the Snake story pic

‘I’m sorry, Tom,’ she said.‘I didn’t mean to annoy you.’

Suddenly I felt better. I looked up.

‘Come back in Tom,’ she said. ‘I’ll lend you my snake toy if you like.’

I jumped down off the step and ran into the garden. There under the tree was her doll. I picked it up. It cried. It was one of those dolls. I ran back in through the front door. My sister took the doll and gave it a hug. She pulled me through to the living room and put her snake toy in my hand.

‘I’m sorry too, ‘ I said. ‘Is your doll OK?’

‘She doesn’t mind getting wet,’ said my sister, ‘I gave her a bath yesterday!’

Suddenly I felt much better. I felt happy again, and warm. We played a good game with the doll and the snake. The snake was magic and it could bring the doll anything it wanted. And you know what the doll wanted? She wanted a big brother to play with. So I pretended to be the doll’s big brother. My sister does think up some strange games!

Questions

 Does the story remind you of anything in your life?

  1. In the story, who said sorry?
  2. How did Tom feel after he had forgiven his sister?
  3. Why did Tom say he was sorry?
  4. How did his sister show that she had forgiven him?
  5. What might have happened if neither Tom nor his sister had forgiven each other?
  6. Do you think this happens in families very often? What do you think about it?
  7. Older children:What does bearing a grudge mean?

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